In an instant classic that featured a play that will live in NFL infamy, the Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints by a count of 29-24 to advance to the NFC Championship Game next week in Philadelphia.
Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s dramatic win over New Orleans
1. The Minneapolis Miracle made NFL history
It’s a play that needs no explanation and it’s a play that will forever be known in NFL lore as the Minneapolis Miracle thanks to a scintillating, emotionally-charged call by the Vikings Radio Network tandem of Paul Allen and Pete Bercich . The Vikings trailed 24-23 with 25 seconds to play in the game, staring another heart-ripped-from-your-chest postseason loss in the face. But this Vikings team would not be denied. Case Keenum found Stefon Diggs deep down the right side and Diggs not only secured the catch but also kept his balance and stayed in bounds. He then sprinted 34 yards to the end zone to complete the improbable 61-yard touchdown as time expired to give the Vikings an exhilarating 29-24 victory.
2. Brees is a cold-blooded competitor, but the Vikings don’t quit fighting
The Vikings dominated the first half, taking a 17-0 lead to the locker room at halftime thanks to efficient offense and a defense that took over by turning Drew Brees over twice, sacking him twice and holding the Saints to zero of four on 3rd downs. This is how the Saints seven drives in the first half ended: punt, punt, punt, interception, interception, missed field goal, end of half. Most of the second half was a different story for Brees, though. New Orleans scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, with a Keenum interception sandwiched between. In the biggest moments, Brees was at his best. He led the Saints on three touchdown drives against the NFL’s best defense in their own house during the final two quarters, which included a 14-yard pass to running back Alvin Kamara with 3:01 to play in the game just moments after conversion of 4th and 10 to Willie Snead. As they’ve done all season, though, the Vikings refused to quit. This week, it was the offense who made the game’s defining play when Keenum found Diggs for the game-winning touchdown to walk off winners over the Saints.
3. The Vikings have a dynamic running back duo, too
New Orleans had one of the NFL’s best offenses in 2017 and it was paced by a running back tandem – Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara – that combined for 3,000 scrimmage yards and 25 touchdowns. Kamara was tough on the Vikings defense on Sunday, too, rushing for 43 yards on 11 carries and scoring a touchdown to go along with 62 receiving yards on four receptions. But the Vikings running back tandem of Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon had an even bigger impact on this game. They each scored touchdowns, with McKinnon dashing in from 14 yards to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead early in the 1st quarter and Murray scoring on a one-yard plunge, his third such touchdown in two games, in the 2nd quarter to post a 17-0 lead. McKinnon and Murray combined for 84 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries and they added five catches for 23 yards, as well.
4. Kai came up clutch
Kai Forbath missed from 49 yards right before halftime, but that was the lone blemish of his performance and it was dwarfed by the clutch nature of two of his other field goal tries. Forbath was good from 20 yards early in the game and from 49 yards early in the 4th quarter, but he came up clutch with 1:29 to play in the game when he split the uprights from 53 yards to give the Vikings 23-21 lead. As it turned out, the Saints drove down to retake the lead and the Vikings answered the with the Minneapolis Miracle, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Forbath’s 53-yarder was clutch as clutch can be, a good sign for the Vikings as they head to the NFC title game in Philadelphia.
5. Vikings at Eagles for the NFC title
The Vikings moved one step closer to doing something no team has done in NFL history and now they are one step away from accomplishing that feat. And that feat is playing in a Super Bowl that is being hosted by your home stadium. The Vikings and Vikings fans fan now think about this and talk about this without also putting the cart before the horse. It won’t be easy, though. Standing in the Vikings way is the NFC’s top seed and one of the best home-field environments in the League.
Source: Vikings | Mike Wobschall | January 14, 2018